Eliminating Stigma: A consideration of the role the pharmaceutical industry can play
My recent article in Medical Marketing & Media explored the importance of vaccine perceptions in a self-pay market and touched upon the issue of stigma, with the recognition that some diseases or conditions are so taboo in society that for physicians to merely suggest the idea of vaccination to their patients is to risk casting aspersions on their lifestyle. In this blog , I aim to take a more in-depth look at what stigma means in the context of healthcare and consider the opportunities and challenges for pharma.
As specialists in healthcare, stigma is something we frequently encounter across many of the disease areas in which we work. This is most evident when we are conducting research directly with patients and particularly in the emerging markets, which is my team’s focus. From sexually transmitted diseases to mental illness, shame may be associated with their condition and is a devastating reality for many of the patients we seek to understand.
One thing that grasps my interest is how society has adopted military style language when talking about cancer
Treatments are described as “defending” or “protecting” whilst cancer patients themselves are “fighters” who “battle” to “beat” the disease. These abstract metaphors of war are used in an attempt to articulate that cancer is a very emotional experience for all involved.
This terminology is intriguing to me, as whilst widely recognised as persuasive, it is also considered controversial. War-like analogies suggest that there will be a “winner”, “loser”, and a “battlefield”. Sadly there are hundreds of types of cancer, and short of resection, there is no definitive cure for any of them. I have to ask myself, how do progressed metastatic patients feel anything other than failure when we talk about the disease in this way?
Is MINT the next BRIC?
In 2001, British economist Jim O’Neill coined the now ubiquitous acronym ‘BRIC’, to stand for the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which he suggested were all poised for massive economic growth. Earlier this year, O’Neill came out of retirement to generate buzz about ‘MINT’ – that’s Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey to the uninitiated – as the next generation ‘ones to watch’ in the coming twenty years.
So what does this mean to the healthcare market and to us as market researchers? With almost 40% of studies conducted by Research Partnership last year having included at least one emerging market, we are well aware that growing economies often translate to growing spend on healthcare and pharmaceuticals – and therefore increasing interest from our clients.
The healthcare market research themes for 2014
As we shake off our winter coats and prepare for what will hopefully be a long, hot summer, the 2014 themes for healthcare and market research are emerging.
As we shake off our winter coats and prepare for what will hopefully be a long, hot summer, the 2014 themes for healthcare and market research are emerging. In the US, we have, and will continue to have, the shakedown from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): the teething problems and the confusion, and gradually, so we hope, a clearer picture of what it means for physicians, insurers and patients – and for the industry as a whole. In the UK, we are looking at the implications of an independent Scotland following a referendum which will take place in September. For healthcare, there are some big questions - how would cross-Border healthcare work? Would the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) continue to work with NICE? And in parts of Europe, particularly France, data protection laws covering market research are making some of these markets challenging to conduct studies in. Globally, the pharma industry is under increasing scrutiny to demonstrate transparent practices and legal compliance. This requirement transfers to market research suppliers such as Research Partnership, and we need to ensure we are adhering to industry guidelines and clients’ policies with regards to project management processes.
Big Data—a new player in the Healthcare Industry
Big Data is an exciting by-product of the information technology revolution and offers new ways of understanding customers.
Our previous blog explored the rise of Big Data and its importance to the market research industry. In this blog we investigate some of the ways in which big pharma have used big data and consider the specific implications for us, the healthcare market research industry.
Big data is exciting to healthcare because the integration of data sources, combined with the tremendous volume of data now available, affords pharma the chance to gain fresh insights into patient behavior and HCP decision-making, as well as make improvements to overall health system planning. Major pharma companies, such as Astra Zeneca and GSK, have been quick to embrace Big Data to gain additional market understanding. For example, Astra Zeneca recently partnered with a data analytics company, Healthcore, which analyses insurance claims. By combining large amounts of medical records with insurance claim data, AZ was able to establish the relationship between treatment effectiveness and cost of care. This helps the company to identify more effective and affordable treatment for patients. This level of analytics, which gives pharmaceutical companies a means of developing more effective pricing strategies, is one that traditional market research agencies are unlikely to be equipped to offer.